It's been a great year for me and my illustration business, I've been really lucky to work on a really great variety of projects with new and old clients, from a hopsital mural, to my first packaging commission and more wedding stationery clients than ever before...
However, I thought that rather than do a end of year reflection over my own projects I'd so something a little different instead and pay tribute some of the best investments I've made in my small buisness this year - espcially as many of them are also small businesses!
So here are my best investments of 2023...
At the end of 2022 when I reflecting on my year and the ways in which I could push ahead and grow my small buisness in 2023 I realised that trying to get some PR for what I do would be a good place to start!
After a bit of research I discovered PR Dispatch. Whilst it was a rather large investment for me at the time I have to say it's been a great one - and not completely in the ways you'd expect...
Firstly PR dispatch is much more than just a list of contacts, they really teach you about PR and how it all works so that you are able to make the most out of your subscription. Along with templates you can use to the pitch to the press, they advise you on imagery, the type of press you should be aiming for and the way in which you should present yourself and your business so you feel set up for success from the off.
The realisation I came to quiet quickly once I began digging into it was that I really needed to invest in some professional brand photography for my businesses - more on that later.
So has it worked... well, yes! I did get two features this year via PR dispatch. One of my murals was feature in The Sun Sunday supplement and Sunday People for a piece on the #bloomcore trend this Summer (bottom left).
The second was a featured in Oct/Nov issue of Your Bristol & Somerset Wedding in their 'Hot Topic' section, talking about how to add personality to your wedding day with bespoke touches!
The buisness profile feature I was pitching to get was sadly illusive, but definately something I am still persuing for 2024...
One unexpected win from joining PR dispatch was also having the confidence to realise it's okay to reach out to publications or companies and suggest yourself or your work for a feature. This realisation is what lead me to the approch Boardwalk where I was featured in a film about my home and my work as part of their 'Insiders' series - a definately 2023 highight and wouldn't have happened without the PR dispatch sowing the seeds!
Celie Nigoumi - Personal brand photographer
If you've been following me on instagram you won't have failed to noticed a huge up-level in my imagery after I invested in a photoshoot with the wonderful Celie Nigoumi earlier this year. Back in May, I welcomed Celie into my home for my first ever photoshoot after pin pointing via the PR work that I needed to invest in some better imagery for my business.
I opted for the 'Flourish' package, adding some video clips to the offering too which involved a 3 hour shoot in my home and garden. From the off I was impressed by the level of depth and detail Celie puts into her packages, really getting to know you and your buisness and understand what you want to communicate through the photos. She also provided lots of helpful prompts and guides, a questionaire and pinterest board ahead of the shoot with all really helped reassure me that we were on the same page.
The breif I gave Celie was for colourful imagery to use across my webiste, blogs, PR pitches and social media. Capturing me at work and home with all the facets to my buisness from murals to wedding stationery, as well as the inspiration I get from nature and inparticular my garden... I think she nailed it!
What I really loved about working with Celie, is her attention to detail - from the care she takes in putting you at ease with having your photo taken, to recomendations on what to wear, compositions and encouraging you to think all the way through of how you'll be using the final imagery.
I've had some many amazing comments about how my social media and website are looking since I've started using Celie's pictures but what I also noticed the minute I started using the photos is how much more confident and professional I felt in my buisness. I finally feel I have the professional imagery to back up the kind of service I offer to my clients which has really helped give me and my work a confiendence boost that I think really shines through.
Harriet Formby - Below the line finance
This was the most recent investment I've made in my business this year, having been recommended Harriet and her company Below the line finance via Celie. I started by watching a few of her brilliant free videos on pricing and profit I decided to book a 'Power Hour' session with her to help me get to grips with my cash flow and pricing.
I know I'm not alone as a small buisness owner in struggling to put a value and price on my work and as a creative numbers can feel like such a block. Harriet is a Chartered Accountant with heaps of experience across different sectors but one of her passions is working with small businesses where numbers aren't their thing.
From my intial reaching out via instagram Harriet was really helpful and comuicative. I felt like she made the effort to understand my buisness sector and the issues I wanted to resolve via emails and a questionaire. She also supplied several excel sheets which I am currently getting to grips with but all with the intention of helping me to get my pricing correct so I can ensure growth, security and sustainability in my buisness.
And you know what... I actually discovered I really enjoyed getting into the numbers! Having resisted for so long, once I started it's actually been really empowering to understand my buisness better and given me more confidence on my pricing going into 2024!
It was so great to purposefully choose to invest in some really cruicial parts of my buisness this year and even the more satisfying to do so know I was also investing in other small businesses.
You can check out all my recommendations here;